Honesty system

Helsinki-Honesty system

I came across the article of Reader’s Digest magazine testing the world on the subject of honesty. What they did was an interesting study. They dropped 192 wallets across the world in different cosmopolitan cities to determine which city has the most honest people. In each wallet, they put phone numbers, a family photo, coupons, business cards, plus the equivalent of $50.

The Reader’s Digest reporters then “lost” their wallets in 16 countries around the world. Dropped wallets numbered a dozen per each city.They dropped them in malls, parks, and sidewalks. The results showed that out of the 16 countries in the world, Helsinki came out on top with 11 out of 12 wallets being returned. Finland has been making the list of top countries to live in by a global survey for how many years now. Could it be the high standard of living, the extremely socialist principles, that makes this city a very honest one? I have had the pleasure of visiting Finland during the summer and I never had to pay for any drinks while I was there. Finns are genuinely nice, and the rarity of a sunny weather adds on to their pleasant characters!

Mumbai, India ranked second with 9 out of 12 wallets being returned. In a land where poverty is very visible in this city’s landscape, it is heartening to know that people here returned wallets to the rightful owners. Budapest, Hungary returned 8 out of 12 wallets. In this city, there was a 60 year old woman who did not make an effort to return the wallet- age maybe?

New York , a city full of diverse nationalities, returned 8 out of 12 wallets. A citizen mentioned that after the tragic 9/11 incident, it has instilled “companionship in everyone”. Moscow, Russia had 7 out of 12 wallets returned, with a good doer saying, “I am convinced that people should help one another, and if I can make someone a little happier, I will.”

Amsterdam, Netherlands had 7 out of 12 wallets returned. I was expecting more from this liberal country actually. Berlin, Germany had a 50/50 score-having returned 6 out of the dozen wallets. Ljubljana, Slovenia ties with Berlin’s score.

London, England scored lower then the Eastern European country, but a ray of shining light came from a returner who said, “If you find money, you can’t assume it belongs to a rich man,” her manager said.

“It might be the last bit of money a mother has to feed her family.” Warsaw, Poland, also scored the same as London. Bucharest, Romania- a country still trying to rebuild its country returned 4 out of 12 wallets. And Rio de Janeiro, Brazil tied with Bucharest. What was shocking to me was Zurich, Switzerland, with only 4 returned wallets out of 12.

Zurich, always voted best place to live in was disappointment. Maybe because being the best place to live in also means a high standard of living where people do not bother returning the wallet, or it being one of the most expensive cities to live in, the $50 is no small change.

The beautiful city of Prague returned 3 out of 12. And the top worst spots were taken by Madrid, Spain and Lisbon Portugal. Could the recent recession in these countries contribute to the dishonesty in these cities? As with everything, one cannot generalize. But I must applaud Readers Digest for such an interesting social study to give a glimpse of societal behavior.

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